Saturday, June 21, 2008

Group Review: Frankenstein

Summary: Frankenstein, loved by many decades of readers and praised by such eminent literary critics, seems hardly to need a recommendation. If you haven't read it recently, though, you may not remember the sweeping force of the prose, the grotesque, surreal imagery, and the multilayered doppelgänger themes of Mary Shelley's masterpiece.

Jenn's Review: Every once in a while I find that it's time to read through a classic... and it was time. This is an incredibly dark tale and I was a little surprised at just how dark. It's depressing (welcome to the Gothic novel). I could help but think that if it was written today it might be picked to pieces by critics, but for it's time, what a chiller!!! It's the classic argument of nature vs. science and actually could have some interesting modern interprtations of the like. I didn't realize prior to picking it up that it was conveyed in letters from a third party to a fourth. Looking back on it, I could have done without a little of the third party exposition, but the third party was necessary to finish the final account of the days.

I can't help but feel sorry for the creature, not to the point where I could empathize the murder of innocent bystanders, but I did sympathize with him. I got frustrated with Frankenstein though, as he continued to create more problems for himself than he solved, and effecting all he loved in the process. All in all, I'm glad I read it, but I think I'll stick to Romantic thrillers, such as Dracula, from here on out.

As for Frankenstein, I favor Mel Brook's interpretation. "Puttin' on da Riiiitz"

Jenn's Final Take: 4.0/5

Julie's Review: I didn't know what to expect when Jenn chose Frankenstein for our group book. I've never really watched Hollywood's version of this novel (ok I do kind of think of Mr. Munster) and I'm glad I did not have any preconceived ideas regarding the deamon/monster. See now I always thought that the title Frankenstein referred to the name of the monster, but alas I was incorrect, it is the surname of the deamon's creator, Victor Frankenstein.

I found the book to be a great read and sorry that I hadn't read it long ago. I'm amazed that Mary Shelley wrote this book at the age of 18 given the themes throughout. I was intrigued by Victor's need to create life from death and the reasons he went this direction. His rejection of his creation made me wonder what would have happened if God had rejected Adam after creating him? Since Adam was made in God's likeness, did Victor create the daemon in his likeness? If so, was that how he viewed himself? Also, what path would Victor and the daemon gone down if Victor had embraced him?

I think this also brings up interesting points on nature vs. nurture. Was the deamon destined to be a monster? Or would his demeanor been different if he had been embraced and loved? Even if Victor had created the Bride, was the deamon too far lost to turn his destiny around? Were the two of them destined to destroy each other? To be miserable? To be so set on revenge?

I believe the book also addresses societal views on attractiveness. If someone looks different than us, do we automatically judge them based on this? I think so, especially when it comes to physical deformities. Most of the time we don't know how to deal with the differences and therefore reject the person or persons. I think it was brilliant insight of Ms. Shelley to incorporate this into her book. It's a theme that resonates still today. (What does that say about how far the human race has come?)

I enjoyed how the story was written. I enjoyed that we heard the story from Victor's point of view through Captain Walton. I thought the ending was fitting to the book even though a part of me wanted a great big showdown. My only complaint was how quickly the deamon learned how to speak and feel. This takes human's years to learn, but because it was a horror novel I suspended reality.

If you haven't read it, I recommend it since it's a story that will resonate for decades/centuries to come.

Julie's Final Take: 4.25/5


Jenn June 21, 2008 at 11:31 PM  

Frankenstein not being the monster's name is a really common misconception. It was even a Jeopardy question once!

Jeane June 24, 2008 at 1:40 PM  

I always thought it was the monster's name until I read the book, too! I'm very glad I never saw a film before reading Shelly's words, because I fear it would have colored my vision while reading.

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